Ratcliff scores dramatic all-star winner

TY PILSON -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:50 PM ET

It was the perfect chance to be the hero and Calgary Roughnecks forward Lewis Ratcliff didn't disappoint.

With yesterday's National Lacrosse League all-star game tied at 13 and time winding down, Ratcliff fired a bouncer short-side with less than five seconds left to play, handing the West Division a 14-13 victory over the East at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The goal was Ratcliff's fourth of the game and earned the 24-year-old MVP honours in his second all-star appearance.

"The play (we talked about in the timeout) wasn't drawn up for that," said Ratcliff. "It was kind of a mish-mash. I didn't even know the ball was coming to me until it was pretty much in my stick. So, I didn't really have time to get nervous."

The game's dramatic finish was somewhat surreal for the Victoria product.

"It feels great," said Ratcliff. "Just playing with all these guys is unreal. And getting this outcome in the game was great."

It was the second straight year a Roughneck was named the all-star game MVP. Tracey Kelusky took the honours in last year's tilt held at the Saddledome, an 11-10 overtime victory by the East.

Outside of Ratcliff, Roughnecks stars played a prominent role in yesterday's victory, accounting for seven of the West's 14 goals.

Kelusky had two goals and an assist, Taylor Wray scored one goal and added an assist while Kaleb Toth had one helper. Head coach Chris Hall served as the assistant coach for the West.

The East led 13-9 in the fourth quarter before the West scored five straight goals in the final eight minutes to clinch the victory. Ratcliff scored two of those -- including the winner -- while Kelusky had one.

The East had won the last two all-star games and both Calgary players admitted it was an important win for their division.

"We treat it as a regular-season game and we like to win," said Ratcliff, who leads the Roughnecks in scoring and sits sixth overall in the league with 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points in eight games this season. "The West doesn't get enough credit for having a lot of good lacrosse players, so it was nice to beat the East."

Kelusky, a native of Peterborough, Ont., who now resides in Calgary, said both teams viewed the game as anything but an exhibition tilt.

"It was a huge win," said Kelusky. "It was big for us. They think they have the best division -- whatever. The talk goes back and forth and we battled hard today and earned this one."

Trick shots and fancy plays dominated the all-star game again this year.

Ratcliff's first goal of the day in the opening quarter was a beauty, as he grabbed a rebound at the top of the crease and fired a spinning reverse underhand shot far-side.

"I don't know if I'd try it in a regular-season game," said Ratcliff of the highlight-reel marker. "It's just nice it went in."

Kelusky also drew the praise of Sportsnet colour analyst Brian Shanahan with a great move when he ran across the top of the crease and made it look like he was shooting far-side and flipped a floater top shelf short-side.

Kelusky, like Ratcliff, doesn't expect to use that move at the 'Dome anytime soon.

"I scored a couple of goals like that in Montreal with that similar move," said Kelusky. "But I'm too afraid to try it with CH (coach Chris Hall) in a real game."


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